Analysis. The government wants to block the bill with a suppressive amendment but hasn’t offered any substantive arguments against it. ‘So far, we’ve had nothing coming from them,’ Conte said.

The opposition is united on Italian minimum wage: ‘No postponements’

The news is that in the face of Giorgia Meloni’s (somewhat generic) overtures on the minimum wage, the opposition forces that have put forward their proposal in recent weeks remain united.

First and foremost, they’re asking the majority to withdraw its suppressive amendment which aims to block the bill and say they’re ready to have a debate in Parliament as early as July 27 to discuss its merits, as had already been decided by the conference of the group leaders.

Now, the majority, so far unmoved by any initiative from the opposition, suddenly finds itself on the defensive: it’s trying to have its cake and eat it, because it understands that at this point it would be counterproductive to come to the floor debate completely dismissive and without any arguments.

The decision to stay the course came from the meeting attended by the group leaders of the PD, M5S, Azione and the Green Left Alliance in the Chamber and in the Labor Commission. Riccardo Magi and former Economy Undersecretary Cecilia Guerra were also present.

“As minority parties, we demanded and secured the result that there should be a debate on the Chamber floor: it will take place on Thursday,” Guerra said. “I would like to point out that the measure has been before the Labor Commission since March. We have had so many hearings, and since we in the opposition have reached a solid and unified proposal, it’s not clear why the majority is only now beginning to think about what they want to do. No proposal has come from them so far.”

“Giorgia Meloni must not play with the lives of millions of poor, exploited and underpaid workers,” added the leader of the Democratic Party group in the Labor Commission, Arturo Scotto. “They need to give a clear answer: not just rejecting our proposal, but having an open discussion on the minimum wage. In Parliament and across the country.”

According to Matteo Richetti from Azione, the forces backing the opposition’s proposed bill would also be willing to do a give-and-take: “If the majority withdraws the suppressive amendment, the minority would agree to go to the Chamber without a rapporteur being assigned.” In that scenario, it will be possible to “start the general discussion on the unified text of the opposition after the [August] break: in this way, the majority can present its own amendments, and after that it will be up to Parliament to find a basis for agreement.”

Deputy Franco Mari from the Greens-Left alliance didn’t rule out such a scenario: “This is a technical issue that we will decide on,” he said. “The political issue that we are asking for is the withdrawal of the suppressive amendment by the majority.”

M5S leader Giuseppe Conte summed it all up: “The majority and the government have the opportunity to debate before the Commission with concrete proposals. So far, we’ve had nothing coming from them, we are still at the level of hearing some speak of an ‘ideological’, ‘Soviet’ bill, or say it’s a form of ‘welfarism.’ If there are any constructive contributions or amendments, we can consider them, but otherwise we won’t accept postponements, bluffs and being given the runaround.”

So, while the tone is different, the substance is the same that had been decided at the coordination meeting of the opposition parties. And this time it really might throw a spanner in the works of the government.

One possible option for the majority is what has been called the “Durigon proposal.” The scenario proposed by the Lega undersecretary for labor is for the bill to be brought to the Chamber floor as scheduled, on Thursday, withdrawing the majority’s suppressive amendment that was scheduled to be voted on in the Labor Commission on Tuesday. However, once in the Chamber, the parties in the government coalition could ask for a postponement of the debate.

As per the rules, that proposal would have to go up for a vote. But the majority should be able to approve the postponement that it has been seeking for weeks. As a result, it would have until September to work out its strategy and perhaps a proposal of its own.

“It’s good if there won’t be a vote on the suppressive amendment,” Scotto said when asked about this scenario. “But I find it implausible that we’d go to the floor and then suspend the work on the minimum wage – only for the issue to get lost in the maze of divisions among the majority. We think work can also be done in August. We’re not interested in any postponement and we don’t support it.”

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